What is an Ema?(votive picture)

I think that you have seen the Ema (votive picture) when you visit shrine.

I think that there are many people who have written it.

By the way, do you know what Ema is originally?

I think that there are many people who write a wish, but it is wrong to write a wish to Ema.

I’ll introduce the right way to write it and origin of Ema.


An Ema was originated from a real live horse.

In the past, it was not an Ema, but a living horse was dedicated to deity.

As the word 『神馬』(Shinme means God’s horse), the horse was supposed to be a deity’s ride.

For this reason, when it was a ritual, it was said that old Japanese dedicated a horse to deities and wished deity’s advent.

However, it is not easy to dedicate living horses each time every rituals.

Therefore, firstly they began dedicating the statues of horses made of trees or soil, eventually becoming a modern Ema made from wood.

In addition, the history of Ema is old and it is said that it has been made since the Nara era.

When the Kamakura period, the Ema became like the present age’s one, and it was drawn on not only a horse but also deity’s divine servant.

This is the origin of the Ema.

How to write an Ema.

I explained in the above, it is wrong to write a wish to Ema.
I here explain how to write it.


After writing Ema and dedicated, if you can achieve the goal, let’s go to the shrine that you dadicated Ema to thank deity!
Even if it can not be achieved, it is said that it is good to report on what happened to deity. This is said Ganhodoki.
To Ganhodoki will be able to ask deity your next wish.


How is it?

Could you understand how to write an Ema and the origin?

I hope that the wish will be reached to deity by writing the correct way!

By the way, there are various Emas depending on a shrine.

This is the Ema in Fushimiinari Taisya.

The Ema is shape of Torii.
Vermillion is very beautiful,isn’t it?

See you then.


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